Weapon: Personal Multi-Effect Processor
Price: $40,00 - $98,00
The Korg Toneworks AX5G is a multi-effect processor (commonly shortened to multi-FX). This unit contains 80 memory slots. 40 are writable and 40 are irritable. This means you can’t rewrite the last 40 programs. The price difference is pretty big. In Holland I bought it for 85 euros, which is about $140. Musician’s Friend has once sold it for $38, and there are more American dealers who use such low prices. Most of these dealers don’t ship international, and if they do, another $30 is added as taxes so it’s not cheap anymore. I have this unit now for about half a year and I’m pleased with it. It has a built in chromatic tuner, expression pedal, mute function and all the standard multi-FX described later. There also is a AX5B, for bass, and a AX3A, for acoustic. More on the AX3 serie on the "alternative weapon" section.
The Korg AX5G has several special features. The standard features, like amp modeling and effect procesing, are discussed below. The features I'm going to talk about here are the built-in chormatic tuner, and the mute function. The chromatic tuner function starts when you push both pedals at the same time. When a string is played, the display shows the note which is most like the note you played. E.g. it could say E after I played the low E-string. The light above the right pedal flashes at a higher frequency when the E-string get's more and more to sharp. On the other side, the left light flashes at a higher frequency when the string is more and more to flat. In this function, the AX5G is also by-passed. When you have more effects and you don't want the AX5G to work, you don't have to get it out of your effect board, just push the two pedals at once. The sound signal won't get any modulation by the AX5G.
The mute function appears when you press the two pedals and hold them for three seconds. Again the tuner appears. The great thing about this function is that, when you play a gig and you need to tune you can mute the sound. So the crowd won't hear you tuning!
The AX5G has a number of different effects, mods, amps, etc. on it. This gives a wide range of possible sounds. The acoustic simulator also gives a very nice acoustic simulated sound. The pedal can go from heavy distortion to nice and clean and back again. This is all possible because of the big amount of amps, cabs, mods and effects. The amps contain rare tube amps, heavy distorted amps and boutique amps. In combination with the various cabinets more and more combinations are possible. This pedal contains the same ship as Korg’s pride: the AX3000G. This is also why the sound quality is very good for a pedal this price. The pedal also has an expression pedal to give the user ultimate freedom. This pedal can be used as Wah-pedal, volume-pedal or FX parameter-pedal. Another important fact is that every thing can be edited. Every amps has at least three parameters, most even have five! Also the mods and effects have several parameters in them. This sounds advanced, but it isn’t! Korg has thought of this, and when you select an effect, it immediately chooses the most effective settings. If you don’t want to be fiddling with all the parameters, you don’t have to! Also you start right away with 40 preset programs so you can just plug it in and not change any parameters at all.
Compressor: this well-known effect has got two parameters: sensitivity and level (volume).
Pickup Simulator: this effect is pretty rare. It simulates pickups, so that you can choose between humbucker pickups sound or the single coil pickupssound. The parameters on this one are Type of pickup, Level, Phase, Phase mix and sensitivity.
Acoustic Simulator: pretty self-explaining name. The parameters are Top, Body, Type and Mix.
Slow Attack: this effect let’s the sound “grow” after you played it. You play it, and then the sound fades in slowly. Parameter is only Attack.
AutoWah: this effect gives more wah if you hit the strings harder. The parameters are Sensitivity, Attack, Order and Type.
Phaser: this known effect is also known as U-Vibe and gives a pitch vibe to the sound. The parameters are Speed, Depth, Order, Type and Manual.
Chorus: this known effect contains the parameters Speed, Depth, Resonance and Manual. Ring Modulator: this is a extraordinary effect. It contains the parameters osc frequency (?), Effect, Direct and Filter.
Drone: drone is the last usable effect on the AX5G and it has the parameters Key (so e.g. A, or G# ), Mix and resonance.
Wah is a uncategorised effect. The expression pedal can be used as Wah pedal, and the parameters are Manual, Attack, Order and Type.
There are 16 amp/drive models on the AX5G. I’m going to list them with their parameters and their auto-assigned cabinet.
Tube Overdrive (gain, tone, volume, Tweed 1x8)
Boutique overdrive (gain, tone, volume, Tweed 1x12)
Fat Distortion (gain, tone, volume, Tweed 4x10)
Orange distortion (gain, tone, volume, Black 2x10)
Metal distortion (gain, treble, middle, bass, volume, US V30)
Shred distortion (gain, treble, middle, bass, volume, UK T75)
Fuzz (gain, tone, volume, UK H30)
Octave Fuzz (gain, tone, volume, UK H30)
Boutique Clean (gain, treble, middle, bass, volume, amp/line, UK H30)
Black 2x12 (gain, treble, middle, bass, volume, amp/line, Black 2x12)
AX15 (gain, treble, middle, bass, volume, amp/line, AC 15TBX)
AC30TB (gain, treble, middle, bass, volume, amp/line, AC 30TBX)
UK668P (gain, treble, middle, bass, volume, amp/line, UK H30)
UK ’80 (gain, treble, middle, bass, volume, amp/line, UK H30)
UK modern (gain, treble, middle, bass, volume, amp/line, UK T75)
US modern(gain, treble, middle, bass, volume, amp/line, US V30)
Before we go to the Mods, there’s one button before it. It’s called Level/Nr/Cab. Here you can set the level (volume), the noise reduction, the cabinet model and the expression pedal range.
Here’s a list of the mods, they all have three or more parameters. Rotary is the only one with two parameters.
Multi Tap Chorus
Random Step Filter
Last but not least, there’s a list of delay/reverb sounds possible. These all have parameters like time, Hi/Low damp and feedback.
Multi Head Echo
The AX5G comes in a carton box and feels prety firm. It's from plastic, so not made for people who want to use it as a stomp box and stomp on it all the time. The expression pedal realy adds something to the AX5G. It just gives more possibilities. This pedal also is from plastic and not realy resistant against the big feet. There are two turning knobs on there, which you can't realy turn while playing. You need to turn them with your hands. Then there are three other buttons, two with variable functions and one with a "expression-pedal-function selector". These knobs also aren't usable without stopping either. The function selector might be nice to use while playing, but for the other two knobs it's no problem to stop playing. They need to be preset and you won't use them while playing. There also are two pedals to switch between the programs. If you want to have the settings changed, you should make a second program with slightly diffrent settings before you start playing. Then, while you are playing, you can change to the second program.
All in all the thing feels prety firm, and is good to use as well. When I would have a gig, I'd just bring it. If I had another, more firm multiFX, I'd probably use the Korg as backup. For home use, it's all fine and you won't need anything else, concerning the strongness.
Combinging all these facts, I'd give the Korg an 8/10. It has enough sound settings and effects to get a good sound. The great chip also means it has some good potential to make nice sound. I have it connected to a 16 watt practice amp and then it just works fine. It also has a built in chromatic tuner, which also is the skipping function. So when you press both pedals at the same time, the display is your tuner, and the Korg is passed by. In the display the note name appears and the lights in the pedal indicate whether your pitch is to higher, or to low. This function realy works very nice.
There are many effects, many amps and many mods, leading to many possible sounds. Thet all have a lot of variable parameters to set things up exactly as you want them. The tweakers can live them selves out on this machine for sure! If you don't like all the tweaking and just want to jam, the machine automaticly picks the right settings to get the most effective sound. Also if you realy don't want to have to choose between all the effects, mods and amps, you can choose one of the fourty preset programs!
We have already astablished that this thing has a good feeling. Two pedals to use when you are playing, and five buttons to use with your presets. It's all nice and firm, but not firm enough for a big smash.
An alternative weapon might be the Korg AX3G if you don't have enough money to spend. It's probably around $30 (€18)cheaper then the AX5G depending on the price of the AX5G. The thing has the same features, but it has no expression pedal on it. This drops manual Wah, volume control, or live parameter control. If you just want to try effects out, and you are sure you're going to buy something better after this, maybe the AX3G is more what you need then the 5G.